Detroit Zen Center This cafe's tasty menu might just change your mind about vegan cuisine
Detroit Zen Center
11464 Mitchell St, Hamtramck, MI 48212
- Neighborhood: Eastern Market & Central
- Price Level:
- Has weekend brunch.
- Vegetarian Options
- Free Parking Available
- Hours: Sun-Mon: CLOSED
Tue-Sat: 11AM - 5PM
- Phone: (313) 366-7738
- Website: http://www.detroitzencenter.org/
- Social: FACEBOOK
If you found yourself walking through a village with undulating stone gardens peppered with statues of crossed-legged deities and quiet rooms appointed with pillows and mats instead of furniture, you might think you’d wandered into a Buddhist temple somewhere in Tibet. But you’re actually in Hamtramck, at the Detroit Zen Center.
Inside this compound of calm is a series of buildings including residential housing, meditation and yoga rooms, and a cafe and retail space. That’s where we’re headed today: to the Living Zen Organics Cafe.
The cafe focuses on vegan cuisine. If that phrase conjures images of a sad plate of lettuce and nuts, and a rumbly belly that wants more food in an hour, give this place a shot. It just might change your mind about vegan food. Living Zen’s dishes are packed with flavor, and you won’t leave this cafe hungry.
One of the most beloved items on the menu is their kale and quinoa salad, which has it’s own following of devotees. There’s also a samadhi salad made with mixed greens with onion, carrot, dried cherries and walnuts tossed in a cashew dressing.
The dish we find impossible to pass up is Zen’s mermaid stew, partly because it’s so tasty and partly because the name “mermaid stew” is just so adorable. The piping hot bowl of yum is simmered with mung beans, French lentils, sunflower and sesame seeds, onion, garlic, lemon and a 12-spice curry that’s made in house. You kinda feel like a mermaid after eating this: graceful yet powerful.
The rest of the menu changes often, guided by what’s in season and locally available. You might find butternut squash soup made with coconut milk and spices or a peanut butter soup with ginger, coconut, lime, mushrooms, carrots and tomato among the weekly offerings. There’s a winter wrap, which snuggles sunflower shoots, avocado, beets, cabbage and quinoa under a whole wheat tortilla with Zensational dressing. It’s hearty but healthy; you’ll leave feeling like you’re able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
If you’re dining with a friend, consider ordering the Monk’s Meal which offers a taste of everything. Literally. They’ll bring you two of everything on the menu, including tea and dessert.
The cafe makes a wonderful introduction for your first visit to the Zen Center, but there’s much more to explore. There’s a whole community of folks dedicated to living a Zen Buddhist life. You can join a drop-in meditation or yoga class (which use a donate-what-you’re-able model). They also have a wellness workshop coming up in February with guided meditation, healing yoga, and plenty of organic, nutritious eats.
If you can’t make it out to the zen center yourself, you can still score their packaged kale chips at Eastern Market and shops like Parker Street Market, Goodwell’s and Honey Bee.
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